Redirecting religious structures for productivity in Africa

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Jon always flaunted his muscular cousin as consolation or excuse whenever people mocked him for being fat and weak. Instead of building his own physique, Jon continuously buys gifts for the muscular cousin in order to continue depending on the cousin’s status for consolation and defence. Our imperfections, especially in having meaningful lives, often make us attach and depend on external objects that seem better than us. Thus, instead of redirecting ourselves to worthy life purposes, we fortify, join and flaunt other objects and personalities as excuses or consolation for our empty lives. Without understanding their religious purpose in the society, some Africans focus on building religious structures while neglecting human development for productivity.


Recently, there has been an increased competition among Nigerian churches and religions about the size and beauty of their structures. These structures include the physical buildings, auditorium, chapel, grotto, vessels, exotic vehicles, net-worth and the corporate structure of branches, church-workers and members. Focusing on this structural competition, some religious leaders employ different tactics to financially and intellectually extort even the poorest people. Now, it seems that the purpose of religion has shifted from spiritual direction for productive life to building magnificent structures.


Humans obtain lasting happiness by developing, organizing and utilizing their potentials for solving problems in the society. They create different institutions to develop and direct the various human and material resources in their environment for happiness. These include institutions for health, academics, industrial productivity, finance, security and governance for the society. Like the physical and nonphysical parts of the body, these institutions support each other for happiness in the society.


While industrial, financial, legal, health, security and government institutions manage physical aspects of the society, academia and religion manage the nonphysical. Respectively, academia and religion direct and motivate the physical institutions to utilize human and material resources for producing socially-relevant products and services. In turn, the material-oriented institutions supply the materials needed for academia and religion’s material satisfaction and functional efficiency. Thus, in progressive societies, magnificent churches, chapels, grottos, cathedrals, vessels, vestments, paintings and designs are manifestations of the society’s material productivity. They flow from and show the abundance of the society’s human and material wealth, creativity and high standard of living.


Unfortunately, in Nigeria and some other African countries, religious structures do not flow from, nor represent the people’s productivity, wealth or standard of living. Instead, many magnificent religious structures represent the extent of post-colonial extortion of people’s material and emotive potentials for productivity and wealth.


Colonialists formed Nigeria by brutally binding various unconsented kingdoms and communities under a militarized government[1][2] for exploiting resources.[3] They installed foreign institutions to destabilize and replace the indigenous forms of education, culture, religion and governance. But they purposely failed to introduce modern industrialization[4] so that the brutally-merged people will not collaborate in using their resources for productivity. Instead, they used the foreign institutions to structure the haphazardly-created African nations to export mineral resources for foreign products. To make their institutions appear superior, colonialists demonized African institutions as primitive and evil. Before independence, they replaced themselves with few Europe-trained loyalist-indigenes[5] to continue exploiting people’s mineral resources[6][7][8] for foreign consumer goods.


Following the colonial design, most industrial materials used for building religious structures in Nigeria are imported in exchange of mineral resources. People create wealth by applying scientific intelligence on raw materials as mineral resources and agricultural products[9][10] before distribution. The material tools for creating wealth by applying scientific knowledge on raw materials come from mined mineral resources. Thus, restricting people’s access to their mineral resources means impoverishing them by restricting their ability to create wealth. This leads to the increase of poverty, crimes, diseases, social disharmony, unproductivity, dissatisfaction and overdependence on importation.


Presently, religions that should motivate people to study and retrieve their resources to create wealth for solving societal problems, encourage people to seek miracles by contributing to building religious structures. Using emotionally persuasive tools of curse-threats and blessing-promises, some religious leaders convince people to dedicate their lives to ‘God’s house’. While dedicating their lives to ‘God’s house’, they alienate themselves from their contributions to societal progress. Taking advantage of this social alienation, some politicians import and donate more religious structures to distract people from studying and retrieving their resources for wealth-creation.


Religious institutions are extremely necessary for radically motivating and directing people towards justice, productivity, peace and progress in the society. Their physical and corporate structures can be avenues for manifesting the people’s development, harmonious productivity, wealth and standard of living. However, without understanding its social roles, religion may continue serving as a weapon of mass distraction, exploitation and destruction.


Reordering religious structures for productivity means redirecting their doctrinal focus from seeking unsustainable, ungeneralizable and non-replicable miracles to motivating people for organizing the society towards harmonious coexistence and productivity. Since Nigeria was colonially merged for exploitation, the first religious purpose is to motivate the brutally merged kingdoms and communities to discuss and agree on conditions for a productive collaboration.[11] This will require a social research to acknowledge the different Nigeria’s peoples and their respective lands and resources for productivity.[12] To achieve this in Nigeria, a sincere government may take these steps:


  • Gather the leaders of the recognized religious groups in Nigeria to clarify their social purpose of motivating and directing the society towards productive collaboration, not miracle-search.
  • Despite the need to respect people’s freedom of worship, the sincere government will assist different religions to evaluate the formation process of religious ministers for common good. So, condition for religious ministry may include socio-philosophical training and psychological evaluation for ministers, to avoid poisoning the society with terrible doctrines and practices.
  • Enact policies for religious leaders to be legally responsible for the effects of their doctrines in directing people to violence or unproductivity. Freedom of worship is not freedom to mislead people into conflicts, violence, injustice and unproductivity.
  • After Nigeria’s national conference and retrieval of resources for productive collaboration, incorporate religious leaders to establish, broadcast and organize a yearly thanksgiving week. This week will feature religious discussions about the social impacts of religious institutions. It will also feature competitions and exhibitions in sports, music, various forms of productivity, talent-shows and human development. Then, Nigeria’s religious structures and vessels will manifest the people’s wealth, creativity and improved standard of living.


Like a double-edged sword, religion is a formidable force for social organization towards collaborative productivity. Without evaluating and ordering religious practices and trends, they turn against the society, leading to violence and disintegration. But when religion is properly ordered for motivating collaborative productivity in Africa, religious structures become manifestations of African people’s wealth, productivity and standard of living. This promises justified happiness instead of hiding behind ‘God’s service’ to neglect our social responsibility of collaborative productivity for common good.


[1] Ogban Ogban-Iyan, Re-inventing Nigeria through Pre-colonial traditions, in Issues in contemporary political economy of Nigeria, (ed.) Hassan A. Saliu. (Ilorin, Sally & Associates, 1999). P77

[2] cf. Richard Dowden, Africa altered states, ordinary miracles. (New York: Public Affairs, 2010). p.445

[3] Cf. Walter Rodney, How Europe underdeveloped Africa (Abuja: Panaf, 2009). P.293

[4] Cf. Walter Rodney, op.cit. p.158

[5] Cf. Walter Rodney, op.cit. p.319

[6] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 2 “… all lands in which minerals have been found in Nigeria and any area covered by its territorial waters or constituency and the Exclusive Economic Zone shall, from the commencement of this Act be acquired by the Government of the Federation…”  “No person shall search for or exploit mineral resources in Nigeria or divert or impound any water for the purpose of mining except as provided in this Act.”  “The property in mineral resources shall pass from the Government to the person by whom the mineral resources are lawfully won, upon their recovery in accordance with this Act.”

[7] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 2, paragraph 1

[8] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 3

[9] Walter Rodney, op. cit. p.23

[10] Henry Hazlitt, Economics in one lesson (New York: Pocket books, Inc. 1946), p.149

[11] Chukwunwike Enekwechi, “Organizing the national conference for a new Nigeria” in Restartnaija February 5, 2019.

[12] Chukwunwike Enekwechi, “The social research for a new Nigeria” in Restartnaija June 5, 2018. retrieved 27th March, 2019.